Not even at midnight or 3 a.m., when something woke me up and I thought it might be his mewing at the window. But it wasn't and I went back to sleep after a brief period of wondering if I would feel devastated or relieved if he never came home again.
The predatory nature of cats in general and Max in particular has been much in evidence since our spate of nice weather started a couple of weeks ago. Yesterday I found the grisly remains of one baby rabbit when I went out to go to the store and a few hours later I found a second pile of entrails on the driveway. This on top of a full meal at 5 a.m.
Several times I have found him playing with a baby rabbit or a bird or a chipmunk in the flower bed and have gone out and picked him up by the scruff of the neck, put him indoors, and then shepherded the victim to a safer place. He never seems to be put out by my rescuing of the victim and doesn't run off when I approach. But he doesn't learn from time-outs or yelling or rewards for good behavior; it's too deeply hardwired into his nature.
I have to close the deck door when I'm not right there to supervise the ins and outs through the flexible screen because he has frequently brought in his kills, much to the fascination of Loosy and Lily who would like to be predators themselves but don't have much to work with, since they can't get off the deck, being too chicken to jump like Max does. I'm fine with their fly- and moth-kills; somehow that doesn't seem like the same thing.
He's been gone almost twenty-four hours now. He could still come romping home with feathers or fur on his whiskers and, of course, I would welcome him. If he doesn't come home, I will mourn him and miss him, but not the corpses I have to deal with daily. Such is the nature of the food chain, I guess. It's neither kind nor merciful in many, perhaps most, species (including human?), but it works.